The Girl's Own Book

Fairy Tales

airy tales are a form of literature based on oral tradition. The genre arose in the seventeenth century in the salons of Paris, where sophisticated women of the court re-told and embellished folk stories in an ornate, mannered style to amuse one another. The genre became popular and other authors followed with their own adaptations of traditional stories. When folklore developed as a field of academic study, newly collected stories provided a rich source for further literary efforts.   

Madame d’Aulnoy was the most prolific writer among the salonnières, publishing her first book of fairy stories in 1697. The term she used for her works — contes des fées — gave the new genre its name.
A fellow Parisian, Charles Perrault, published his first book of adapted traditional tales the same year. His versions are the best known for many popular stories, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Sleeping Beauty.
The Grimm brothers sought out variants of German and European folk tales, and published versions of Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Snow White, and many others in the forms we know today.
Publishers often did not bother to identify actual authors, but attributed the stories to well-known fairies — Oberon or Puck — or to Mother Goose, the archetypal old woman who recounts folk stories and poetry to listeners young and old.
Hans Christian Andersen, unusually, wrote original stories, many of which came to be well-known fairy tales: The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, and The Ugly Duckling.

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